I hope everyone had a good and safe New Year. The New Year brought rain and raised the Trinity River to the point of good water flows, the trouble is it is hard to find the steelies. It seems that the upper river is crowded with drift boats and rafts fishing, so some fishers are trying the Willow Creek area. Bait fishers are doing fair while the fly fishers are having a hard time getting hookups. I am not sure if it is the cold water or the presentations. Cold water does make the fish lethargic and trying to save energy to make it back up the river to where they were spawned. I know the fly fishers that are using the soft beads are doing better than the ones casting flies.
The Hoopa Reservation is still closed to non-residents due to a surge of COVID-19. The tribe is trying to do its best to stop the spread of the virus and that is why non-residents are not allowed on the reservation land. It does not stop one from traveling Highway 96, just not going on reservation streets or river access. I sure hope his COVID thing can get under control. I do know that the Hoopa are using the vaccine and trying to get the virus under control, but it is a waiting game at this point.
The river survey for salmon is over and the Trinity River Hatchery is now starting to only do steelhead. This is good because we need a better count of winter run steelhead. I just wish that the Trinity River Restoration Project would start to open up mouths of more streams and do some meaningful restoration in the watershed so we could get more native steelhead and coho salmon spawning in the cold-water streams like the ROD directed them to do.
Trinity River Hatchery, Julian week 50 ending Dec. 16: Fall chinook, 3 jacks, 23 adults, total 26, season total 7,083; Coho, 64 jacks, 241 adults, total 305, season total 2,141; steelhead 16, season total 46.
Upper Klamath River video count, Julian week 50 ending on Dec. 16: Shasta River, chinook salmon 0, season total 4,101; Coho salmon 0, season total 34; Scott River, chinook salmon 0, season total 252; Coho salmon 0, season total 1,738; Bogus Creek, chinook salmon 0, season total 2,289; Coho salmon 5, season total 88.
Fishing: Fishing the Willow Creek area started to improve in the past week or so but then the rains slowed down and the river cleared up some which made it harder to get hookups. It has become a stealth type of fishing. In fly fishing one has to make a good presentation in order to not spook the fish and the same goes for bait fishing. I haven’t seen any hardware fishermen for a while but I am not seeing many fishers out on the river either. Most hookups are half-pounders but a few small adults in the 2- to 4-pound range are being caught and released. The Del Loma section is producing a few more adult Iron Heads but the closer to the hatchery you get the bigger the steelhead it seems. We need a good flushing type of rain, like if it were to rain an inch or two overnight, then we could possibly see a really good run of winter steelies.
Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,009 cfs into the Klamath River as of Sunday afternoon. The Weitchpec area is still closed to the general public because of the COVID-19 but the lower Orleans area up to Happy Camp is open to the public with plenty of places for fishing. The upper Klamath from I-5 to Iron Gate is producing some good adult steelhead fishing. A good contact up there is Scot Coldwell Guide service.
Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 85 percent of capacity (no change) with inflows of 508 cfs and releasing 339 cfs on to Keswick. Shasta Lake is 45 percent of capacity (no change) with inflows of 3,700 cfs and releasing 2,871 cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 93 percent (an increase of 1 percent) with inflows of 3,177 cfs and releasing 3,292 cfs into the Sacramento River. Lake Oroville is 35 percent of capacity (minus 1 foot) with inflows of 1,194 cfs with releases of 1,756 cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 30 percent of capacity (minus 4 feet) with inflows of 1,020 cfs with releases of 1,133 cfs into the American River.
Trinity Lake: The lake is 90 feet below the overflow (an increase of 1 foot) and 51 percent of capacity with inflows of 216 cfs and releasing 743 cfs into Lewiston Lake with 427 cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake.
Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Lake is 98 percent of capacity (a decrease of 1 percent) and water releases are 316 cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperature of 45.3 degrees as of Sunday afternoon. Limekiln Gulch is 4.74ft at 314 cfs. Douglas City is 6.34ft with flows of 366 cfs and water temperature of 45.5 degrees. Junction City is 1.77ft at 381 cfs. Helena is 8.34ft at 456 cfs with water temp of 45.4 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.97ft at 621 cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 2.97ft at 314 cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 939 cfs and water at 45.6 degrees. Hoopa is 12.89ft at 1,841 cfs and water is 45.9 degrees.
Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,009 cfs. Seiad Valley is 2.62ft at 1,561 cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 2,428 cfs. The Salmon River is 3.55ft at 1,518 cfs. The Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 11.79ft at 11,528 cfs and water temps are 46.5 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jedediah Smith are 13.07ft with flows of 13,684 cfs and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are at 18.23ft. Fishing on the Smith River for fresh steelhead should be starting to be really good with all the high water.